Saturday, August 12, 2017

Turkish Delight AKA Lokum

Turkish Delight, or lokum (also loukoum), is a confection made from starch and sugar. It is often flavored with rosewater or lemon, the former giving it a characteristic pale pink color. It has a soft, sticky consistency, and is often packaged and eaten in small cubes that are dusted with sugar to prevent sticking. Some recipes include small nut pieces, usually pistachio, hazelnut or walnuts.

Turkish delight, lokum or rahat lokum and many other transliterations (Ottoman Turkish: رَاحَة الْحُلْقُوم‎ rāḥat al-ḥulqūm, Turkish: Lokum or rahat lokum, from colloquial Arabic: راحه الحلقوم‎‎ rāḥat al-ḥalqūm, Azerbaijani: /lɑːtiɡum/ ) is a family of confections based on a gel of starch and sugar. Premium varieties consist largely of chopped dates, pistachios, and hazelnuts or walnuts bound by the gel; traditional varieties are mostly flavored with rosewater, mastic, Bergamot orange, or lemon. The confection is often packaged and eaten in small cubes dusted with icing sugar, copra, or powdered cream of tartar, to prevent clinging. Other common flavors include cinnamon and mint. In the production process, soapwort may be used as an emulsifying additive.

The Turkish names lokma and lokum are derived from the Arabic word luqma(t) and its plural luqūm meaning "morsel" and "mouthful" and the alternative Ottoman Turkish name, rahat-ul hulküm, was an Arabic formulation, rāḥat al-hulqūm, meaning "comfort of the throat", which remains the name in formal Arabic. In Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia it is known as ḥalqūm, while in Kuwait it is called كبده الفرس "chabdat alfaras" and in Egypt it is called malban (ملبن [ˈmælbæn]) or ʕagameyya and in Syria rāḥa. Its name in various Eastern European languages comes from Ottoman Turkish lokum or rahat-ul hulküm. Its name in Greek, λουκούμι (loukoumi) shares a similar etymology with the modern Turkish and it is marketed as Greek Delight. In Cyprus, where the dessert has protected geographical indication (PGI), it is also marketed as Cyprus Delight. In Armenian it is called lokhum (լոխում). Its name in Bosnian is rahat lokum, and derives from a very old confusion of the two Ottoman Turkish names found already in Ottoman Turkish; indeed this mixed name can also be found in Turkey today. Its name in Serbo-Croatian is ratluk, a reduced form of the same name. In Persian, it is called rāhat-ol-holqum (Persian: راحت الحلقوم‎‎).

In English, it was formerly alternatively known as Lumps of Delight.

The Nory Candy company in the Greater Los Angeles area has been producing Turkish Delights or Rahat Locum since 1964. The company produces different fruit and exotic flavors including rose and licorice as well a variety which include nuts such as Almonds, Pistachios, and Walnuts.

In 1930 two Armenian immigrants, Armen Tertsagian and Mark Balaban, founded Liberty Orchards of Cashmere, Washington, and began manufacturing "Aplets" (apple and walnut locoum) and "Cotlets" (apricot and walnut locoum). In 1984 they added the medley-flavored "Fruit Delights" line in strawberry, raspberry, orange, blueberry, peach, cranberry, and pineapple assortments. Although all of these confections are marketed under American-style brand names, they are referred to on product packaging as "Rahat Locoum".

In Canada, the Big Turk chocolate bar made by Nestlé consists of dark magenta Turkish Delight coated in milk chocolate, and is marketed as both Turkish delight and loukoum.

Turkish Delight AKA Lokum
Recipe For Turkish Delight AKA Lokum

2 cups sugar
0.5 cups cornstarch
1.5 cups water
0.5 tsp cream of tartar
2 tbls rosewater or
one of the following to taste:

0.5 tsp rose food flavoring
0.25 cup fruit juice
1 tbl vanilla extract
1 tbl orange extract
1 tbl Crème de menthe liqueur

Food coloring
0.5 cup chopped toasted pistachios or almonds
icing sugar, granulated sugar, or desiccated coconut for dusting

Combine sugar, 1 cup water, cream of tartar, and flavoring(s) in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil over medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes, until the mixture reaches "firm-ball," or 250°F (120°C) on a candy thermometer. In a separate bowl, combine cornstarch with 1/2 cup hot water, mix completely, and slowly stir into sugar mixture.

Stir constantly until mixture is evenly combined. Continue to stir on low heat under mixture thickens and becomes clearer. Apply non-stick cooking spray to a form (ice cube trays will do nicely, though not plastic ones), shallow pie pan, or jelly-roll pan. Pour the thickened hot mixture into the pan or form and allow to set. When cool, release from form or cut into cubes as applicable and roll each piece in powdered sugar, granulated sugar, or coconut. Store at room temperature in airtight container.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || WikiBooks Cookbook
Image Credit: GNU WikimediaCommons

Friday, August 4, 2017

Macarons: That's Macarons, With One "O"

[Editor's Note: When i first learned of this dessert the way i was able to never confuse macaron with macaroon---aside from the fact that one is spelled with one "o" and the other with two---is that the macaron uses almond flour. Macaroons are made with coconut.]

A macaron (/ˌmɑːkəˈrɒn/ mah-kə-ROHN; French pronunciation: ​[makaʁɔ̃]) is a sweet meringue-based confection made with egg white, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond powder or ground almond, and food coloring. The macaron commonly consists of a ganache, buttercream or jam filling sandwiched between two cookies. The name is derived from the Italian word macarone, maccarone or maccherone, the meringue. The confection is characterized by a smooth squared top, a ruffled circumference (referred to as the "foot" or "pied"), and a flat base. It is mildly moist and easily melts in the mouth. Macarons can be found in a wide variety of flavors that range from the traditional (raspberry, chocolate) to the new (foie gras, matcha).

The related macaroon is often confused with the macaron. In English, most bakers have adopted the French spelling of macaron for the meringue-based item, to distinguish the two. This has caused confusion over the correct spelling. Some recipes exclude the use of macaroon to refer to this French confection while others treat the two as synonymous.

The two food items are different, and the terms in English distinguish them. Etymologically, the word macaroon is simply an Anglicisation of the French word macaron (compare balloon, from French ballon). Multiple pronunciations are technically correct depending on personal preference and context. In a Slate article on the topic, Stanford professor of linguistics and computer science Dan Jurafsky indicates that "macaron" (also, "macaron parisien", or "le macaron Gerbet") is the correct spelling for the confection.

A macaron is made by combining icing sugar and ground almonds until fine. In a separate bowl, egg whites that are beaten until a meringue-like texture. The two elements are then folded together until they are the consistency of "shaving foam", and then are piped, left to form a skin, and baked. Sometimes, a filling is added. There are two methods to making a macaron - the "French" method and the "Italian" method. The difference between the two is the way the meringue is made - either Italian or French meringue can be combined with ground almonds. There is also an "American" method.

Flavors of macarons available in America are available in respect to the general tastes of the public. These include flavors such as mint chocolate chip, peanut butter and jelly, snickers, peach champagne, pistachio, strawberry cheesecake, candy corn, salted pretzel, chocolate peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, candy cane, cinnamon, maple bacon, pumpkin, and salted caramel popcorn.

Macarons have been produced in the Venetian monasteries since the 8th century A.D. During the Renaissance, Catherine de' Medici's Italian pastry chefs made them when she brought them with her to France in 1533 upon marrying Henry II of France. Larousse Gastronomique cites the macaron was created in 1791 in a convent near Cormery. In 1792, macarons began to gain fame when two Carmelite nuns, seeking asylum in Nancy during the French Revolution, baked and sold the macaron cookies in order to pay for their housing. These nuns became known as the "Macaron Sisters". In these early stages, macarons were served without special flavors or fillings.

It was not until the 1830s that macarons began to be served two-by-two with the addition of jams, liqueurs, and spices. The macaron as it is known today, composed of two almond meringue discs filled with a layer of buttercream, jam, or ganache filling, was originally called the "Gerbet" or the "Paris macaron." Pierre Desfontaines of the French pâtisserie Ladurée has sometimes been credited with its creation in the early part of the 20th century, but another baker, Claude Gerbet, also claims to have invented it. French macaron bakeries became trendy in North America in the 2010s.

Chocolate Macaron Recipe From WikiHow
Chocolate Macaron

Chocolate Macaron Cookie
1 ½ cups confectioners' sugar
⅔ cup almond flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Pinch of salt
3 egg whites, room temperature
5 tablespoons granulated sugar

Chocolate Filling
½ cup cream
2 tablespoons chocolate chips or shaved chocolate

Chocolate Macaron Cookie: Preheat the oven to 280 °F (138 °C). Macaron halves are baked at a very low heat so that they will rise gently and not collapse. If your oven tends to run hot, you may want to bake the macarons with the oven door slightly ajar. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Since these confections are so delicate, it's necessary to use parchment paper so they won't stick to the baking sheet. Mix the almond flour base. Place the almond flour, confectioners' sugar, salt and cocoa in a bowl. Use a whisk to mix the ingredients until they are fully incorporated. Be sure no lumps remain in the mixture. If your almond flour is coarse, run the mixture through the food processor to grind it fine. Don't grind it for too long, though, or the mixture will turn to almond butter. If you don't want to make chocolate macarons, leave out the cocoa powder.

Beat the egg whites and add sugar. Place the egg whites in a metal bowl and either whisk or beat them until they form white, stiff peaks. Be sure the bowl is completely dry and clean, or the eggs won't form peaks. Add the sugar and beat until the peaks become stiffer and turn glossy. At this point you can beat in flavorings such as vanilla, peppermint extract, or almond extract to the wet batter. Add about a teaspoon of your favorite flavoring. Mix in drops of food coloring to make the macarons more colorful. Match the color to the flavor you have chosen for a nice effect. Keep in mind that macarons tend to lighten when baked, so you may want to add in an extra drop of food coloring in order to achieve the desired shade.

Fold the batter ingredients together. Gently fold the almond meal mixture into the egg white mixture in two parts. Fold in half of the almond meal mixture with a spatula until the ingredients are just combined. Add the second half of the almond meal mixture and fold it in until just combined.

Punch the batter: In order to produce macarons with the classic soft, chewy texture, the batter must be "punched." Use the back of a spoon or a spatula to push down in the center of the batter, scrape the batter from the sides to the center, then push down again. Keep punching the batter in this way until it begins to look loose and pudding-like in texture. You'll probably need to punch the batter about 10 - 12 times before it's ready. Make sure you stop when the batter looks like pudding; if you punch it too many times, it will become runny, which ruins the consistency of the batter.

Baking the batter for the macron: Fill a pastry bag with batter. You can use the same type of pastry bag you'd use for icing. Fit it with a large circular icing tip. Fill the bag with macaron batter, then twist the end closed so that the batter won't escape.

If you don't own a pastry bag, you can make your own by using a plastic sandwich bag. Cut off one of the corners, then fit it with the icing tip. Experiment with different icing tips. Most bakers make macarons in the classic round shape, but if all you have is a star-shaped tip, give it a try!

Pipe the batter onto the baking sheets. Squeeze the pastry bag and pipe 3-inch circles of batter onto the baking sheet. The batter circles will spread a little, so give them plenty of space. Try to squeeze the exact same amount of batter for each circle, so the halves of the macaron come out to be the same size. Now hold each baking sheet about an inch over the countertop and let it drop. Do this about 3 times with each sheet; this helps the batter settle.

Let the batter rest. Keep the baking sheets at room temperature for about 15 minutes. The macarons are ready to bake when a dry crust has formed over their surfaces. Touch your finger gently to the top of a macaron; if the batter doesn't stick, it's time to put them in the oven.

Baking the macaron halves: Place the baking sheets in the oven. Bake the macaron halves for 15 minutes, or slightly longer if necessary. The macarons are finished when they have a slightly hard crust and are soft, but not gooey, on the inside. When they're done, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool completely. You can open the oven door after a couple of minutes to let any humidity escape. This helps the macarons rise and take the correct shape. Don't over bake the macarons, or they'll brown on top and the texture won't be quite right. Baking macarons is a fussy process, and takes a lot of practice. If your macarons fall on the first try, consider changing the temperature or cooking time in the future.

Making The Filling: Heat the cream. Place it in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir the cream as it heats, and remove it once it begins to steam. Do not let it come to a boil. You could also heat the cream in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl.

Pour the cream over the chocolate. Let the hot cream melt the chocolate for a minute or two, then use a spoon to stir the mixture together until it becomes a smooth, creamy chocolate ganache. Spoon the filling into a clean pastry bag. This will make it easier to pipe the filling onto the macarons as you fill them. Fit the pastry bag (or sandwich bag) with a small icing tip.

Consider other fillings. Chocolate ganache is a popular macaron filling, but there are many other fillings to choose from. Try a simple buttercream filling, either plain or flavored with your favorite extract. If you like fruity fillings, raspberry, apricot, or blueberry jam make great choices.

Assembling The Macarons: Loosen the macaron halves. Use an offset spatula to gently lift the cooled halves from the parchment paper and turn them over so that their flat sides are facing up. It's easy to crush macaron halves, so be sure to handle them with care. To help the macarons cool down quickly, baker Eric Lanlard recommends lifting the parchment paper and pouring a little cold water beneath the sheet and the paper. This will create steam, enabling you to remove the macarons with ease.

Pipe the filling onto half of the macaron halves. Position the icing tip in the center of the macaron half and squeeze about a teaspoon of filling onto the macaron. Repeat with half of the macaron halves you baked. Cover the filling with another macaron half. Gently position a second macaron half over the filling and lightly press it down, so that you've formed a sandwich. Continue with the remaining macaron halves until all of the macarons have been assembled.

Enjoy the macarons from the oven, or store them in an airtight container for later use. They will keep for several days in the refrigerator.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || WikiHow
Image Credit: WikiHow Chocolate Peanutbutter Macron Photo by WikihowSaver via Flickr/CreativeCommons

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Fa Gao Chinese Prosperity Cake

Fa gao (simplified Chinese: 发糕; traditional Chinese: 發粿; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: hoat-koé) is a Chinese cupcake-like pastry, most commonly consumed on the Chinese new year, that is made of flour (usually rice flour), leavening (traditionally yeast, but can be chemical leavening), sugar or another sweetener, steamed (instead of baked), until the top splits into a characteristic "split top" of four segments. The batter is typically left to rest for fermentation prior to being steam-cooked.

The name of the cake is a pun, as "fa" means both "prosperity" and "raised (leavened)", so "fa gao" means both "prosperity cake" and "raised (leavened) cake". These cakes, when used to encourage prosperity in the new year, are often dyed bright colors. Chinese New Year also known as the "Spring Festival" (simplified Chinese 春节; traditional Chinese 春節; Pinyin: Chūn Jié) in modern Mainland China, is an important Chinese festival celebrated at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. Celebrations traditionally run from the evening preceding the first day, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first calendar month. The first day of the New Year falls on the new moon between 21 January and 20 February. In 2017, the first day of the Chinese New Year is on Saturday, 28 January, initiating the year of the Rooster.

The New Year festival is centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Traditionally, the festival was a time to honor deities as well as ancestors. Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Mauritius and Australia, and the Philippines. Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had influence on the lunar new year celebrations of its geographic neighbors.

Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese New Year vary widely. Often, the evening preceding Chinese New Year's Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red color paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of "good fortune" or "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity". Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes. Among about one third of the Mainland population, or 500 million Northerners, dumplings (especially those of vegetarian fillings) feature prominently in the meals celebrating the festival. Gung Hay Fat Choy Happy Lunar New Year 2017 The Year Of The Rooster.

Fa Gao Chinese Prosperity Cake Recipe From Knowing Food
Fa Gao

2 Cups Rice Flour
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 & 1/2 Cups Hot Water

3/4 Cups Plain Flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
2 to 4 Drops Red Food Coloring*

[Editor's Note: The red food coloring is optional. i have included it with the recipe as red is a traditional good luck color in Chinese culture. 2 to 4 drops is a suggested amount depending upon how deep a shade of red is desired.]

Sieve the dry ingredients [except the sugar] together. Add the sugar into the 1 & 1/2 cups of measured hot water and stir until sugar disolves. Mix the sugar water with the dry ingredients. Pour the mixture into molds [*cupcake paper should be placed in the molds prior to pouring]. A steamer is needed to cook the cakes. Bring the water in the steamer to a boil. Place molds into the steamer to steam on high heat for 25 minutes.

Text Credits: Wikipedia||Wikipedia||Knowing Food||Image Credit: YtowerCookingChannel